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Immigration in Canada: A Portrait of the Foreign-born Population, 2006 Census: Immigrants came from many countries

Most recent immigrants still came from Asia, but their share remained stable

The nearly 6.2 million foreign-born people in Canada reported more than 200 countries of origin on the 2006 Census.

Among the more than 1.1 million recent immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006, almost 6 in 10 (58.3%) were born in Asian countries, including the Middle East.

The share of recent immigrants born in Asia (including the Middle East) had increased steadily since the late 1970s. But in 2006, the share (58.3%) was virtually unchanged from 59.4% in 2001.

Immigrants from Asia did not come in large numbers until a few decades ago. In 1971, 61.6% of newcomers to Canada were from Europe. Only 12.1% of newcomers who arrived in the late 1960s were Asian-born. The proportion of Asian-born new immigrants increased to 38.9% in the late 1970s. By the late 1980s, one-half (50.9%) of the newcomers were born in Asia, as recorded in the 1991 Census.

This shift in the source of immigration to Canada since the 1970s was due to a number of factors, such as changes in Canada's immigration programs to build on social, humanitarian and economic goals, and international events affecting the movements of migrants and refugees.

As a result of the changing immigrant source countries, the proportion of the foreign-born population who were born in Asia and the Middle East (40.8%) surpassed the proportion born in Europe (36.8%) for the first time in 2006.

Figure 2 Region of birth of recent immigrants to Canada, 1971 to 2006

World. Place of birth of recent immigrants to Canada, 2006

China again top source country for newcomers

The People's Republic of China was again the leading source country of newcomers to Canada. Fully 14% of recent immigrants who arrived between 2001 and 2006 came from the People's Republic of China.

The People's Republic of China was followed by India, representing 11.6% of new immigrants, the Philippines (7%) and Pakistan (5.2%) — the same order as in 2001. These four Asian countries alone accounted for 37.8% of all newcomers in 2006.

In total, there were six of the top 10 source countries for recent immigrants in Asia and the Middle East. The other two were South Korea, which accounted for 3.2% of newcomers, and Iran, which accounted for 2.5%.

Recent European immigrants came from the Eastern Europe

Although the number of immigrants from Europe has declined over the years, they still made up the second-largest group of newcomers. In 2006, they accounted for 16.1% of recent immigrants. However, this was well below the proportion of 61.6% for European-born newcomers back in 1971.

The two most common European countries of origin for newcomers in 2006 were Romania and the United Kingdom. This represented a change over the decades among European-born immigrants. Formerly, most newcomers came from the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal.

The 1990s saw an increase of immigrants from the Eastern Europe, a trend which has continued. In fact, immigrants born in Romania represented 2.5% of all newcomers during the past five years, surpassing the 2.3% of newcomers born in the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, newcomers born in the Russian Federation accounted for 1.9% of all recent immigrants, higher than the proportion of 1.5% from France.

Table 1 Top 10 countries of birth of recent immigrants, 1981 to 2006

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